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Solving the BI question: Organisations need answers



Solving the BI question: Organisations need answers

By Naveen Miglani, CEO and Co-Founder, SplashBI

What is the key to a successful business? Answers! People are always going to have problems. A common issue, however, is that people are continuously searching for the newest, and quickest way to fix their problems so they can move on to the next task. The rapid pace of today’s business and tech worlds has proven to be troublesome in itself for some companies.

Add data into this mix and it doesn’t take long for organisations to start searching for a BI tool to give them the answers they need. How can I better retain my staff? What are my current leads and opportunities? How is my marketing campaign supporting lead generation? What else could we be doing to lock down new clients?

But really, organisations don’t need a Business Intelligence (BI) tool. They need answers. Choosing a BI tool is only one piece of the puzzle. Organisations can ultimately get reliable answers to their business questions by drilling down into their data, comprehending the insights hidden within, and using this actionable intelligence to drive the business forward.

A BI tool is not enough

When organisations are sold the data dream, they are often enticed by attention-grabbing visuals and eye-catching reports, filled with colours, charts and representations of all of their data in one place. This real-time overview of data enables organisations to adopt a far more strategic vision, and it places reports generated from HR data, historical inventory data, financial forecasts and customer spending patterns all within arm’s reach. But then comes the reality check.

When the BI sales team leaves and the contract has been signed, the actuality sinks in: now is the time for the HR, analytics, IT, sales or finance team – wherever the responsibility in the business may sit – to actually build these reports from the data in front of them.

The problem is, where do they start? For a marketing team looking to gain insight from their customer base, or a retailer that needs to know which products had the highest sales volumes before planning next season’s campaign, being presented with this data and no method for making sense of it can not only be demoralising, but very disengaging.

After all – they had signed on the dotted line with the goal of getting answers fast, which then seems unlikely of happening at all. To rectify the situation, organisations often must spend thousands of dollars in additional consulting fees, on top of the BI tool initially purchased, to achieve their data dream and get the answers they were looking for. In a challenging economy where organisations are already having to make tricky, tactical decisions on the fly, this doesn’t seem to make very good business sense, and it certainly isn’t a justifiable, long-term solution.

101 uses for BI

There are 101 uses for BI – yes, really! From scheduling regular automated reports to pulling data from multiple databases and data mining for deep analytical insights, there is a plethora of functionality that BI tools can offer that really do deliver business value for organisations. It’s just a case of unlocking it.

Viewing data trends in real-time, tracking the ROI of systems and setting goals of predictive analytics are not unachievable goals when using a BI tool. The dreams sold by the BI sales team can become a reality, and the problems really can be solved. A HR Director can use a data visualisation tool to track employee retention and skill development; a Marketing Manager can monitor web traffic specific to different marketing campaigns; a CFO can identify which departments are viable for cost-cutting and which are untouchable. To achieve this, a different approach to BI is needed.

Starting with simplicity

The problem is that organisations are currently making the BI process far too complicated. But really, HR Managers, Marketing Execs and CFOs don’t have to start from scratch; there is no need to build unique dashboards for every department when in fact many leaders are looking for the same answers.

The sunny side of today’s rapidly-changing technology is that solutions come around just about as fast as problems do. Problem: Building different dashboards across all departments is too difficult and time-consuming. Solution: Pre-built reports and dashboards allow any leader to quickly and efficiently track KPIs, metrics and key data points for their specific department.

The ability to leverage pre-built business analytics is a revelation; whether it’s of the complete marketing funnel or an overview of all employee data. Pre-packaged analytics enable organisations to find the answers to their business questions – from simple to complex – straight out of the box, subsequently increasing ROI and propelling the business to success.

By blending cross-application data, reporting results in real time, visually representing complex insights across dozens of data sources and analysing data to make smarter business decisions, organisations will no longer have to worry about needing a data scientist or specialist and concentrate on generating leads and closing deals.

Without the right mentality, and without asking the right questions, a BI tool is not enough. It’s time for organisations to take control of their data by asking the right questions and generating the insights needed to keep the business moving forward.


Robinhood plans confidential IPO filing as soon as March – Bloomberg News



Robinhood plans confidential IPO filing as soon as March - Bloomberg News 1

(Reuters) – Online brokerage Robinhood, at the centre of this year’s retail trading frenzy, is planning to file confidentially for an initial public offering as soon as March, Bloomberg News reported late on Friday, citing sources.

The California-based brokerage has held talks in the past week with underwriters about moving forward with a filing within weeks, Bloomberg said.

Robinhood did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Reuters reported last year that Robinhood has picked Goldman Sachs Group Inc to lead preparations for an initial public offering which could value it at more than $20 billion.

Robinhood was at the heart of a mania that gripped retail investors in late January following calls on Reddit thread WallStreetBets to trade certain stocks that were being heavily shorted by hedge funds.

The online brokerage tapped around $3.4 billion in funding after its finances were strained due to the massive trading in shares of companies such as GameStop Corp.

(Reporting by Ann Maria Shibu in Bengaluru; editing by Richard Pullin)

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Analysis: How idled car factories super-charged a push for U.S. chip subsidies



Analysis: How idled car factories super-charged a push for U.S. chip subsidies 2

By Stephen Nellis

(Reuters) – When President Joe Biden on Wednesday stood at a lectern holding a microchip and pledged to support $37 billion in federal subsidies for American semiconductor manufacturing, it marked a political breakthrough that happened much more quickly than industry insiders had expected.

For years, chip industry executives and U.S. government officials have been concerned about the slow drift of costly chip factories to Taiwan and Korea. While major American companies such as Qualcomm Inc and Nvidia Corp dominate their fields, they depend on factories abroad to build the chips they design.

As tensions with China heated up last year, U.S. lawmakers authorized manufacturing subsidies as part of an annual military spending bill due to concerns that depending on foreign factories for advanced chips posed national security risks. Yet funding for the subsidies was not guaranteed.

Then came the auto-chip crunch. Ford Motor Co said a lack of chips could slash a fifth of its first-quarter production and General Motors Co cut output across North America.

“It brings home very clearly the message that the semiconductor is really a critical component in a lot of the end products we take for granted,” said Mike Rosa, head of strategic and technical marketing for a group within semiconductor manufacturing toolmaker Applied Materials Inc that sells tools to automotive chip factories.

Within weeks, automakers joined chip companies calling for chip factory subsidies, and U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and President Biden both pledged to fight for funding.

Industry backers now aim to be part of a package of legislation to counter China that Schumer hopes to bring to the Senate floor this spring. Still, all agree it will do little to solve the immediate auto-chip problem.

Headlines about idled car plants resonated with the public that had shrugged off abstract warnings in the past, said Jim Lewis, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Lawmakers, already worried that a promised infrastructure bill will not materialize this year, decided to push for quick solution.

“Nobody wants to be seen as soft on China. No one wants to tell the Ford workers in their district, ‘Sorry, can’t help,'” Lewis said. “It was one of those moments where everything aligned.”

The package includes matching funds for state and local chip-plant subsidies, a provision likely to heat up competition among states including Texas and Arizona to host big new chip plants that can cost as much as $20 billion.

The subsidies could benefit a factory in Arizona proposed by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co and one in Texas eyed by Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, even though those factories would be geared toward high-end chips for smartphones and laptops, rather than simpler auto chips. And those factories would not come on line until 2023 or 2024, according to plans disclosed by the companies, the world’s two largest chip manufacturers.

In the longer term, a raft of U.S. companies are also poised to benefit. Any chipmakers that build factories will source many tools from American companies such as Applied, Lam Research Corp and KLA Corp.

Intel Corp, Micron Technology Inc and GlobalFoundries – which already have U.S. factory networks – will also likely benefit.

Smaller, specialty chip factories also could benefit.

“The recent chip shortage in the automotive industry has highlighted the need to strengthen the microelectronics supply chain in the U.S.,” said Thomas Sonderman, chief executive of SkyWater Technology, a Minnesota-based chipmaker that makes automotive and defense chips. “We believe that SkyWater is uniquely positioned due to our differentiated business model and status as a U.S.- owned and U.S.- operated pure play semiconductor contract manufacturer.”

Even with subsidies, the U.S. companies still must compete with low-cost Asian vendors over the long run, and the immediate auto chip troubles will probably persist.

Surya Iyer, a vice president at Minnesota-based Polar Semiconductor, which makes chips for automakers, said his factory is booked beyond capacity and has started to speed some orders up while slowing others down, to meet automakers’ needs as best it can.

“We are expecting this level of demand to continue at least for the next 12 months, maybe even longer,” he said.

(This story has been refiled to add attribution to quote in paragraph 9, add dropped words in paragraphs 10 and 17)

(Reporting by Stephen Nellis and Hyunjoo Jin in San Francisco and Alexandra Alper in Washington. Editing by Jonathan Weber and David Gregorio)

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Atlantia disappointed with CDP bid for unit, continues talks



Atlantia disappointed with CDP bid for unit, continues talks 3

By Francesca Landini and Stephen Jewkes

MILAN (Reuters) – Italy’s Atlantia said on Friday an offer by a consortium of investors led by state lender CDP for its 88% stake in Autostrade per l’Italia fell short of the mark and asked its top managers to see if the bid could be sweetened.

“The offer falls below expectations,” the Italian infrastructure group said in a statement, adding it had mandated the chief executive and the chairman to assess “the potential for the necessary substantial improvements” to the bid.

Italian state lender CDP, together with co-investors Macquarie and Blackstone, has presented a proposal valuing all of Autostrade per l’Italia at 9.1 billion euros ($11 billion).

The consortium also requested Atlantia guarantee up to 700 million euros in potential damage claims and another roughly 800 million euros for a pending legal case, making the bid less attractive than previously expected.

One source said the consortium estimated overall pending legal claims against Autostrade at 3 billion to 4 billion euros, adding the 700 million euro cap did not mean the amount would be detracted from the offer price from the start.

Earlier on Friday Atlantia’s minority investors TCI and Spinecap had called on Atlantia’s board to reject the offer, saying it undervalued the asset.

“No deal is better than a bad deal, especially a bad deal and a wrong price,” TCI Advisory Services partner Jonathan Amouyal said in a emailed comment to Reuters.

TCI, which holds an indirect stake of around 10% in Atlantia, repeated that the value for 100% of Autostrade should be no less than 12.5 billion euros.

The board will hold a further meeting in order to take a final decision on the offer in due time, Atlantia said.

The negotiations between Atlantia and the CDP-led consortium are part of an effort to end a political dispute over Autostrade’s motorway concession triggered by the collapse of a motorway bridge run by the unit.

(GRAPHIC – Atlantia share performance:

The bid expires on March 16, but the deadline could be extended in case Atlantia calls an extraordinary shareholders meeting (EGM) on the issue, according to one source with knowledge of the matter.

Shares in the group ended down 0,7%, after recovering some losses, as investors waited for the decision of the board.

Atlantia, which is controlled by the Benetton family, owns 88% of Autostrade, with Germany’s Allianz and funds DIF, EDF Invest and China’s Silk Road Fund holding the rest.

The group also kept open an alternative plan to demerge and sell its stake in Autostrade per l’Italia unit and called an EGM on March 29 to extend to end-July a deadline for offers for the demerged stake.

(Additional reporting by Stefano Bernabei, editing by Louise Heavens and Steve Orlofsky)

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